July 20, 2020 / 7:39 AM / 15 days ago

South African rand retreats as virus surge weighs on sentiment

South African bank notes featuring images of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) are displayed next to the American dollar notes in this photo illustration in Johannesburg,file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand weakened early on Monday as a global surge in COVID-19 infections put the brakes on risk-taking.

At 0700 GMT the rand was 0.19% weaker at 16.7300 per dollar compared to Friday’s close of 16.6975.

The rand had rallied to a one-month best in mid-week before facing technical resistance around the 16.50 mark.

Investors demand for yield was tempered by growing coronavirus cases locally and abroad, as well as resurfacing diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“We start the trading week on a subdued risk negative footing as the surging number of COVID-19 cases once again weighs on markets,” TreasuryOne currency trader Andre Botha said.

More than 14 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 595,459​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Locally, positive cases approached the 340,000, with nearly 5,000 deaths.

Bonds opened flat, with the yield on the benchmark 2030 paper up 0.5 basis points to 9.415%.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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